Healthy Cooking Essential for Great Budget-Friendly Meals: What’s in my Fridge? + Fruit and Vegetable Favourites

A list of what I consider “essential” in order to prepare healthy meals on a budget.

Hello Everyone! This week has been a tough one, so I am sorry if some of the things I write don’t make much sense. The lack of sleep due to my 11 months-old son Phoenix, who is currently teething and in the worst mood you can imagine, has left me with little energy and pretty much no ability to think straight. This is me, currently trying to write (although every time I work on my blog he seems to be enjoying grabbing my leg and crying in the hope of being picked up):

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He usually wins and I end up with him on my laps, trying to type with one hand, while listening to Disney songs. So again, I am sorry if sometimes I am not making any sense, but it’s notΒ always easy to talk about the benefits of broccoli, with the Seven Dwarfs off to work playing in the background! Anyways, rant over ( sorry I had to let it out!) :).

Today, I want to show you what’s in my fridge and what fruit and vegetables are always kicking around and I couldn’t live without, or maybe I could, if I could substitute them with more expensive alternatives. This is pretty much a list of the most affordable ingredients I need in order to make tasty and healthy meals.

I consider myself extremely lucky, as I live a 10-minute walk away from an amazing market, where I can buy fruit and vegetables extremely cheap. Everything you see in this picture is Β£1 a bowl and there are plenty more stalls like this one.

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I am so happy when I can find bowls of berries for that price. I often buy the equivalent of 900-1000g of blueberries for Β£1!! Can you believe it? So people, please please please, check any market you may have nearby and try and buy your fruit and vegetables there. I know that not all of you have the chance to buy from a market, so to make it easier, when I write on here and refer to a food as cheap, I refer to the price of any regular supermarket, where most of you buy your food shopping. It wouldn’t be fair for me to include plenty of recipes with blueberries only because I can find them for extremely cheap, would it? πŸ˜‰

What’s in my fridge?

Here is a simplified list,Β food I always need to have in my fridge. Obviously, as times and seasons change, the food differs, but these staples are pretty much always there. I made a list of fruit and vegetable favourites as well, but just to clarify, not all of those fruit and veg are stored in the fridge!

  • Almond Milk: This is my choice of milk, as I can’t digest cow’s milk properly. I am usually ok eating other dairy products, but cow’s milk is just a bit too much for me. I always buy this on offer and refuse to pay full price for it!
  • Fromage Frais: if you read my other posts, you know how much I like fromage frais. It is extremely high in protein and at the same price of other yogurts. Plus, it’s fat free and very low in calories. I like to add it to smoothies or eat with a bit of honey and nuts or to top some of my meals.
  • Low-fat yogurt: I always have a tub of cheap plain yogurt in the fridge. You can usually find it for about 45p for 500g and it’s extremely good value, given how many things you can make with it. I love baking with yogurt, the cakes come out so moist!!
  • Cream Cheese: Again, you can pick up a 200g tub of basics cream cheese for under 50p and it does wonders, when you add it to chicken or pasta. You can make a very creamy sauce with a lot less calories than if you were to use cream. Plus, I love its tangy taste.
  • Hummus: for some reason in Tesco you can find organic hummus at the same price of regular hummus. So, I guess that’s not a hard choice to make, is it? πŸ˜‰ Hummus is a great healthy snack to have, dip some carrot sticks in it and that’s it, no need for any other unhealthy bits.
  • Meat: I always need to have some meat around, not only is a great source of protein, but there are so many meals you can cook with it! I always buy my meat from MuscleFood, the quality of the meat is incredible! It’s all free range and at an incredible price!! You can find 5kg of chicken breastsΒ for only Β£25, that is Β£5 per kg! That’s not bad, considering it’s excellent quality and free range meat, right? I usually buy a big bulk of chicken, mince meat and other bits and then freeze them in portions. At the moment, I spend Β£55 in meat every time I place an order and it lasts for 8 weeks. On there, you can find any sort of protein containing food you may ask for, they have such a huge selection! So, check it out!

Fruit and Vegetable Favourites

This is a list of fruit and vegetables you can pick up from many supermarkets for around 50p, so you have no excuse to say eating healthy is expensive! πŸ˜‰

  • Cucumber: That’s mainly for my daughter Sophie, she looooves cucumber, she would pick cucumber over any other food!
  • Lettuce: I like to have lettuce around for salads. I usually buy mine and wash it and prepare it myself, it’s cheaper than buying the bag of already washed and ready-to-eat salad leaves.
  • Carrots: I love them, a bag of carrots goes a long way, they are great as a healthy snack or to make soups or as a base to many dishes, such as Bolognese.
  • Betroot: vacuum-sealed packets of cooked beetroot are great to have around. They have a long shelf-life and beetroot is very versatile. You can bake with it, make smoothies, soups or add it to salads.
  • Broccoli: A superfood that happens to be very cheap as well, bonus! Frozen bags of broccoli are also very convenient to have around.
  • Bananas: 5 bananas cost around 50p. They are filling, a great source of energy, a brilliant snack by themselves or in smoothies. I couldn’t live without them!
  • Garlic and Onions: They are a must in any kitchen , I think. That’s the base of most cooked foods I eat. So, nothing else much to say about them, really! πŸ™‚

Other fruit and vegetables a bit more expensive, but all under Β£1:

  • Tomatoes: so healthy and versatile. I often use it in salads, or to make pasta sauces and condiments or to make tasty soups. I actually foundΒ some beautiful huge tomatoes at the market yesterday, all for Β£1!
  • Limes and lemons: their juice and zest bring so much flavour to most dishes and every time I smell them I think of summer. So, definitely a must!
  • Fresh herbs: basil, parsley, rosemary,Β mint are amongst my favourite! If you can grow your own, then you will be saving up so much money! I usually chop and freeze any leftover herbs I have, so that I never run and I’m always stocked up!
  • Apples: another very versatile fruit, I grate them in my porridge, give them to Sophie as a snack, add them to smoothies, my husband Wesley loves them in salads, in other words, a family’s favourite!
  • Sweet potatoes: they have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes and I just love their taste. I will be posting a recipe for healthy sweet potato fries that are absolutely heavenly! We all love them here!

Now tell me about your food choices. What do you always need to have in your fridge? And what fruit and vegetables do you always have kicking around at home? Let me know!

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Thank you for reading and have a great day, my dear friends! πŸ™‚

Monica x

 

 

 

 

 

 

31 thoughts on “Healthy Cooking Essential for Great Budget-Friendly Meals: What’s in my Fridge? + Fruit and Vegetable Favourites

  1. Oh my, I can’t believe each of those bowls cost 1Β£. I think it’s impossible to find it that cheap here in Portugal. At least near where I live. I never buy any berries because they are crazy expensive, like 200g for 4€. No way. But I always buy apples, bananas and Oranges, this time of year. In the summer we always have some watermelon and peaches. Grapes are also kind of expensive here, so we only buy them from time to time, as well as strawberries. For veggies, we have a vegetable garden, full of things. This year is going to be even bigger. I also buy frozen veggies often. They’re cheap and healthy.

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    1. I know I feel so lucky to have that market so close! Berries are usually so expensive everywhere and In supermarkets they are the same price as yours. Apples, banana and oranges are usually cheap so I love them too! That’s great you have a vegetable garden! I wish I could have one! And frozen veggies are a must here as well! I will write about what’s in my freezer next week and frozen veggies are always there! They are so cheap and very healthy! πŸ™‚

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      1. Ooh great price for asparagus! We live in a small rural market town it’s hit and miss with the veg market. I remember the teething process so well to and the sore chin and dribbles, sleepless nights there’s no answer really, but it won’t last forever! Have you done frozen fromage frai fruit sticks ? Good to cool down the gums!

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      1. That’s where I tend to use them normally, and I really wish I’d brought my Breville Blend Active with me to uni, but I don’t trust leaving it around in the shared kitchen. I think I might grab some natural yoghurt next time I’m at the shops to try with the berries! πŸ™‚

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  2. Oh I am so jealous you have a fresh market so close! Every week I always buy at LEAST bananas, spinach, kale, brussels, apples, chicken, and turkey. I love having a variety of fresh fruits and veggies.

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  3. Ahh, I see Tescos, Sainsburys etc. you must live in England πŸ™‚ I lived there too for a while, and still visit regularly as my family still live there. I love Sainsburys albeit a bit on the pricer side. Love Marks and Sparks too. You have a very practical and informative blog. I like your breakdown of the different types of foods. I too wrote a post the beginning of February outlining heart healthy meals and some examples of what we eat. Fruit and veggies are always on my list. I’m trying to cut back on the starches. In fact it’s been a week now, with no bread, potatoes or sweets πŸ™‚ Tough, but I’ll get there. I look forward to more healthy posts from you.

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    1. Thank you for reading my post and yes, I do love in England. πŸ™‚ The food in Marks and Spencer is amazing, just not always cheap unfortunately. Well done for managing to cut down all the starches and sugar. It is so hard at the beginning! I remember I did it not long ago and I felt like a zombie for more than a week! Good luck! πŸ™‚ x

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